The Stick is Back, and So Am I!

Posted on August 14, 2013Filed Under Teaching | 1 Comment

I realized something today. Man already has the ability to travel forward in time. All you have to do is make sure that whatever period of time you want to skip is scheduled as vacation. Boom. Just like that you’re at the end of it. Done and done, as they so annoyingly say.

The problem is that you can’t go back. Stick with me, I’m going to be a little foggy for awhile on this whole “blogging” thing. 😉  I just traveled from last May.

We are under new management.  Lots of it. I’ll start from the top of the food chain.

1. Assistant Superintendent of Business Services. Gone. My major nemesis. The real head of IS&T. Tried to get me fired more than once. Had to call in a favor from the other assistant supe to fend him off once. Cue “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” like many did for Mrs. Thatcher’s demise.
2. Head of IS&T. Gone. Major nemesis #2. The wife said I should catalog all the big issues (as in interfering with teaching issues) I have had in the past 8 years or so. Smart girl. Unfortunately, I am not as smart as she is. Suffice it to say say, the number is in the dozens. Cue the song again. The beauty part is that her job was eliminated and rolled into another admin position: head of curriculum and instruction. Someone is finally realizing that tech and curriculum these days are intertwined.
3. Principal of my site. Gone. Bumped upstairs to head the district’s special ed combine. That’s why the stick is back. The new guy will be my sixth principal at this site and my eighth one overall.
4. Assistant Principal of my site. Gone. Bumped upstairs  (sort of)  to be principal of our continuation high school. He’ll fit right in there. ‘Nuff said.
5. School Secretary. Gone. Moved to a smaller site. Not that that is actually management, but you know how much smoother things go when you have a good one? No comment here.

So. It’s really going to be an interesting year for several reasons. We have a, shall we say, high maintenance staff. They have stumped three out of five previous  principals. I can’t wait to see how these guys handle some of our more “interesting” staff. Also, our new principal comes from a small middle school that last year gave every kid  and teacher an iPad. Hrrrrmm. He’s going to love our district’s take on cutting edge technology. And by love I mean be frustrated by. Plus, ain’t this year one for the ol’ Common Core to start rolling out? And a new school secretary to train! (“No, we don’t do that. The previous secretary handled all that for us…”)

And most importantly for me… the stick is back. Our new AP, when he was trying to do another (impossible) job at our site a couple of years ago, wondered when stick went away. I told him that a crabby parent had complained that I was intimidating her student, and that I was asked to “put it away.” He scoffed in agreement with me at the silliness. Yay!

More on all of these changes as they develop.

In celebration of the return of the stick, I am rerunning its original appearance in these pages. I’ll be back tomorrow; I have a backlog of material.

From October 2009,
The New(But Really Old) Quiet Stick

“The school-master, always severe, grew severer and more exacting than ever, for he wanted the school to make a good showing on ‘Examination’ day. His rod and his ferule were seldom idle now — at least among the smaller pupils.”  -Mark Twain in Tom Sawyer

There is a common misconception about the nuns back in the day. Everybody assumes that they did their all their whackin’ on us with rulers and yardsticks. That is untrue. They only used rulers on us if it happened to be during math class when we were measuring something. Otherwise it was THE POINTER.

The nuns at St. Mel’s never deigned to actually touch the chalkboard, or the chalk for that matter. The dust might soil the habit. (Our nuns even wore the old school wimples, with the stiff, high cardboard up front.) So they used chalk holders to write with, preloaded by one of us assigned to the task. They used us to erase the boards and to clap out the erasers. (The latter was actually sort of a coveted job, because it got you out of class for 5 minutes or so…even if you did come home yellow and sneezing.) And they never touched the board to point. They used THE POINTER.

Three feet long. Solid wood, but with a rubber tip that made a squishy thwack on the board. However, there was nothing squishy about that stick.

Swish. Whack. A fraction of an inch from your hand with an ear-splitting sound. The jab. The haughty point in your direction, the jaunty wave in greeting, or the menacing waggle.

But mostly the whack. And sometimes they missed the desk.

Well I have one now, and mine’s vintage, baby. My dad found it in his mom’s garage. Three feet long. Over 100 years old. Carved from a single branch of hickory. No rubber tip, but it’s carved in the same shape. Handle, well-worn and smooth. And, oh how it makes a thwack!

The former Quiet Stick now has an honored placed in the front of the classroom, and I occasionally point at it or wave it. But it has been supplanted. This one is simply called Mr. Coward’s Stick.

I walk with it in the quad for yard duty, using it as a cane (a la House).  A twirl now and then. Maybe resting it on the shoulder. I wave it like a magic wand to part the sea of middle schoolers. I stop a couple kids from running with a motion like a toll gate. And then…The POINT.

“You! Gum! Trash! Now!”

“Stop!”

This new stick is so”large and in charge” that I can’t even take a picture of it; it won’t fit in the frame. And a mere picture cannot hope to convey the power that it holds.

The nuns knew the power of a stick.

 

 

Comments

One Response to “The Stick is Back, and So Am I!”

  1. Carly Sween on August 25th, 2013 1:46 pm

    Doesn’t every middle school have a high-maintenance staff? Those who choose to teach middle school are a little, um, out there…. and proud of it!

    Welcome back. Am happy to see you are back to posting.I’ve just finished the first 3 days with my new 7th graders. Starting year 17. Here we go!

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